Last month, Governor Mike Parson signed House Bill 397 which modifies current laws to protect children in child care settings. The Missouri General Assembly passed this bill during the last legislative session, and it contains numerous provisions that will impact children and child care facilities and aim to prevent tragic incidents from occurring. These changes, which will go into effect on August 28, include the following:
• For unlicensed child care providers, the total number of children in care was increased from four to six, including a maximum of three children who are under two years of age. Children who live in the home and who are five years old and older will not be included in the total number of children in care. All other children will be included in the total number of children in care.
• For licensed child care facilities, all children, including related children, will count in the license capacity, regardless of facility ownership.
• For unlicensed, illegal child care providers, the offense of providing illegal child care has been raised from an infraction to a Class C misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. The penalties were also increased to a fine up to $750 for the first offense and up to $2,000 per day, not to exceed $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
DHSS is now required to file for civil penalties, between $750 and $2,000, for the provision of unlicensed illegal child care. The department must provide written notice of the violation, educational materials about Missouri’s child care laws and regulations, how a facility may become exempt or licensed, and penalties for operating an unlicensed, nonexempt child care facility. DHSS must also provide the individual with 30 days to become compliant, including attaining exempt status or becoming licensed. Civil penalties will not be assessed against those providers who are criminally charged for providing illegal child care.
DHSS is now provided with the explicit authority to deny an application for licensure if the child care facility is located within 1,000 feet of a location where a person required to register as a sex offender resides or regularly receives treatment or services, excluding those provided by a hospital.
For more information visit https://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/index.php.